Thomas Wilner

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Thomas B. Wilner (born 1944) is the managing partner of Shearman & Sterling's International Trade and Global Relations Practice. Wilner has also represented the high-profile human rights cases of a dozen Kuwaiti citizens detained in the United States naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.[1][2][3]

Wilner earned his law degree in 1969 from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.[4]

Wilner has been admitted to the bar in a number of jurisdictions, including the US Supreme Court in 1975.

Washington Post Op-Ed[edit]

The Washington Post published an op-ed by Wilner on January 1, 2008.[5]

He noted:

"All these prisoners have asked for is a fair hearing, one in which they have the chance to learn the charges against them and to rebut the accusations before a neutral decision maker."

Guantanamo cases[edit]

Wilner has been critical of the conditions under which the US holds Guantanamo detainees. In a February 26, 2006 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times Wilner reported:

  • It took two and a half years of legal wrangling before he won access to interview his clients.[6]
  • None of his clients were "captured on the battlefield."
  • None of his clients were accused of engaging in hostilities.
  • All of his clients claim they were captured by warlords, and sold to the US forces in return for a bounty.
  • All of his clients have described brutal beatings and other abuse while they were held in Afghanistan and several of them elaborate on the brutal beatings they received after their arrival at Guantanamo.
  • Wilner described the brutality of the force feeding of the Guantanamo hunger strikers in great detail.

Wilner also reported that interrogators have warned Guantanamo captives that the Guantanamo attorneys were all Jewish, and they couldn't trust them.[7]

On September 19, 2008 the Washington Post published a letter to the editor from Wilner in reply to a recent editorial on whether the Congress should pass legislation on how the Justice system should conduct captives' habeas corpus appeals.[3] The United States Supreme Court's ruling in Boumediene v. Bush had overturned Congress's proscription on allowing captives access to the US justice system.

Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman had introduced a bill " mandate the procedures the courts must follow in the habeas hearings for Guantanamo Bay detainees."[3] The Washington Post's editorial had applauded the Senator's proposed bill. Wilner's letter expressed concern that the bill was unnecessary, and could:

"...interfere with habeas cases underway, cause confusion and raise constitutional issues that could only delay the "prompt" habeas corpus hearings ordered by the Supreme Court."


  1. ^ "Guantanamo Bay: Dealing with the Enemy in an Age of Terror". Justice's talking. May 16, 2005. Retrieved 2007-02-05.  Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "American gulag: Torture, force-feeding and darkness at noon -- this is Guantanamo, a lawyer for prisoners says". Los Angeles Times. February 26, 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-02.  Archived December 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b c Thomas Wilner (2008-09-19). "Guantanamo Detainees and the Courts". Washington Post. p. A18. Retrieved 2008-09-19. The habeas corpus review ordered by the Supreme Court is modest but fundamental. It simply requires the government to demonstrate to an independent judge that it has a reasonable basis for detaining a prisoner. It is the most basic protection against arbitrary and mistaken imprisonment. U.S. courts have handled these cases since our country was founded. They are fully capable of handling these cases now without further legislation. 
  4. ^ "Findlaw Lawyer Directory]". Findlaw. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  5. ^ Thomas B. Wilner (January 1, 2008). "Guantanamo detainees deserve a chance to defend themselves". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2008-01-04. 
  6. ^ "Fawzi Khalid Abdullah Fahad Al Odah, et al., Petitioners v. United States, et al.". US Supreme Court. July 30, 2004. Retrieved February 5, 2007. 
  7. ^ Estaban Rodriguez (June 30, 2005). "Reply of June 30, 2005, to Henry Waxman" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-05-07.  mirror

External links[edit]